Reading Test Scores & Prison Populations

Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.BegintoRead.com
Urging young people to read more when there is little available to read makes as much sense as urging starving people to eat, when no food is available. Krashen, 2007
In middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Neuman, Susan B. and David K. Dickinson, ed. Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 2. New York, NY: 2006, p. 31.
80% of preschool and after-school programs serving low-income populations have no age-appropriate books for their children

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Pope Francis Has Joined Our Cause (yea for the Catholic Church)

Yesterday, the Pope came out against the Catholic Church’s unfriendly & unproductive public policy of repeatedly attacking the poor, the gay, and women’s rights.

By association, the Republican Party is being incriminated by the Holy Father’s words also for its own similar negative focus.

While it may appear to be muddy water at the moment, it is logical that as LBJ lost the Southern Democrats with his very unpopular civil rights push of the sixties – ruining the Democrats chances of a presidency for many years to come – the Republican Party could very well come out of this current fanatical attack on healthcare and the poor losing not the South or even the nation, but the World.

There is a growing visceral reaction across this nation and I would suggest the planet (at least anywhere people can read and think) against this mean and unfriendly tail wagging what used to be a rather friendly non-biting dog.

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I Wish You’d Never Been Born & Other Adverse Childhood Experiences (Videos)

These are the most powerful videos from the Academy on Violence and Abuse www.avahealth.org They go a long way in explaining our nations consistently low graduation rates, terrifically high murder rates, prison populations, chronic illnesses and leading the world in sexually transmitted diseases.

All of these videos are powerful and worth your time.

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Child Sexual Abuse, Alcohol, & Help

Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.

Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.

According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.

Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.

Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.

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Schools Criminalizing American Children

East coast schools are experiencing the mass incarceration and expulsion of student populations.

Using police instead of counselors has lead to a giant leap in overcrowded courts, incarcerated youth, & privatized juvenile justice facilities.

New Jersey eliminated all mental health services from schools and uses the justice system to deal with adolescent problems.

New York students with disabilities are 4 times more likely to be suspended than the non-disabled (New York Times/Molly Knefel) with 69,000 expulsions and 2,500 arrests last year, mostly for infractions that would have dealt with by counselors in years past.
Pennsylvania recently sent 2 judges to prison for 40 years for receiving kickbacks for sending thousands of mostly innocent youth into the privatized youth prison system.

The data is clear that children of color and poverty are grossly over-represented in this newly criminalized society that is sweeping the nation.

In a nation that pays day care workers less than food service workers (the least paid profession in the nation) and has refused to adequately fund crisis nurseries, or subsidized day care, we should not be surprised that our youth are unprepared to learn in school and a source of non-criminal behaviors that trouble school officials.

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Support Safe Passage For Children – Children Are Not Burgers

A value proposition is the amount you are willing to pay for a certain level of quality.

Take McDonalds for instance. The value proposition is to pay a low price for acceptable quality. If you get it, that’s a good value. (Except for the French fries, which are a great value!)

The current value proposition in child welfare is similar. We pay staff modest amounts and they meet basic requirements such as investigating reports in 24 hours and getting kids to court every three months.

If that’s all we want, it’s a good value.

But it’s the wrong value proposition.

We want high quality outcomes for children and will have to pay a realistic price to get them. That will cost more, but the results will be worth it.

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Thank You Century College

This weeks KARA presentation for Century College Luncheon Speaker Series prompted good questions and brought a solid discussion to the critical issues facing at risk children.

We are all seeking better and happier endings.

It will take some participation by all of us to shift the culture to where it respects and cares for America’s children, for that to happen.

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America’s Amazingly False Answers To Mental Health Issues

Criminalizing mental health,…, denied treatment,…Michael Schuler stabbed himself in both eyes after spending 40 days in jail”) identifies the iceberg tip that is the crisis of this nation’s failure to deal with mental health issues. “Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails” is repeated in hundreds of county jails and hundreds of prison facilities throughout America.

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CHILD WELFARE NEWS STATE BY STATE (for August)

NBC 4 – August 28, 2013
Records obtained by NBC4 show 63 children died in Los Angeles County as a result of abuse and neglect since January 2012, including some with a lengthy history of allegations leading up to the death.
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Documents-Detail-Child-Abuse-Deaths-in-Los-Angeles-County-221587601.html

CA: LA County facing fines for operating unlicensed foster care shelter, missing deadlines
Southern California Public Radio – August 28, 2013
Her job was to sort out who was biologically related to whom, and find the kids a place to stay – all within a window of 23 hours and 59 minutes. It’s the deadline at which, legally, the kids would need to be in a place that’s certified to care for them, like a foster home or shelter. Too often in the past eight months, L.A. County has missed this deadline, according to state regulators. And as soon as Wednesday, California’s Department of Social Services said the county could be subject to fines of $200 a day for operating an “unlicensed emergency shelter.” As of Wednesday morning, state officials had not taken action. Also: DCFS warned to place kids in foster care sooner: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=9223065&rss=rss-kabc-article-9223065
http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/08/28/38906/county-to-weigh-options-for-avoiding-state-fines-f/

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Fetal Alcohol Update (from Safe Passage For Children)

If you know one of the 600,000 Fetal Alcohol Syndrome children born each year in America, you know how much harder life is for them.

In both my family and friendships, I have come to know the great challenges faced by both the parents and the children due to the lifetime effects of this devastating destruction of early brain development.

Today’s article from Safe Passage For Children takes issue with the Hennepin County Physicians that have exempted themselves from reporting a pregnant woman’s addiction to cannabis or alcohol based on the theory that good relationships are more effective than reporting this serious form of child abuse.

Safe Passage points out that the Ramsey County Mothers First program is operating at 85% drug-free births. and asks the question if Hennepin physicians can match that.

This seems like an important and fair question to ask considering the consequences.

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Massachusetts Child Abuse Up – 30% Fewer Petitions To Remove Children From Abusive Homes

Budget cuts at the Department of Children and Families has compromised family supports and child protection in Massachusetts. “The state is saving money, but not necessarily protecting children” (Marcia Lowry, Children’s Rights).

I argue that states are not saving money. It costs many times more money to ruin lives and live with dysfunctional children turned adults than it does to provide child friendly programs that help kids make it through school and out into society. It is also the right thing to do.

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Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

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Child Welfare In The News (find your state – nation here) 100+ articles

Child Welfare in the News is distributed at no charge by Child Welfare Information Gateway (www.childwelfare.gov), a service of the Children’s Bureau/ACF/HHS (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb). It features news stories on topics of interest to child welfare and related professionals. Inclusion does not imply endorsement of any view expressed in an article, and opinions or views do not reflect those of Child Welfare Information Gateway, the Children’s Bureau, or staff. Other free subscriptions from Child Welfare Information Gateway are available at: www.childwelfare.gov/admin/subscribe

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Anoka MN – Saying Yes To Childhood Obesity & Smoking (not great public policy)

Anoka MN has one of the highest smoking rates in the nation, and it need not worry that free federal funding to promote smoking secession, anti obesity, and child safety programs will show up in schools to change overweight smoking youth anytime soon.

Thanks to Rhonda Sivarajah, the County Chair of the Human Services Committee – who perhaps finds childhood obesity and smoking a public good, or at the very least, finds programs promoting the well being of the Counties children not worth supporting.

Rhonda worked hard to vote down the 1+ million dollar federal strings free SHIP grant that would have created low-calorie snack menus, safe walking routes to school programs, and smoking cessation programs for thousands of Anoka elementary and high school children.

The primary complaint against the SHIP Grant, was that the feds wanted some kind of tracking (accountability) to see that the money was being spend wisely.

It’s my observation that accountability goes against everything these people stand for.

This decision demonstrates a very low value the County sees in its children.

Remember friends, “What we do to our children, they will do to society”. Pliny the Elder 2500 years ago

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More Daycare & Crisis Nurseries = Fewer Tortured & Murdered Babies

A 25-year-old man admitted in court Monday in northwestern Minnesota to inflicting deadly head and neck injuries on the 22-month-old daughter of his girlfriend.

Raul Perez, of Ada, pleaded guilty in Norman County District Court to second-degree murder in the death of Ariel Reyes last August.

Perez lived with the girl and her mother.

A doctor at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo noted many injuries to Ariel, including bruises to her jaw, forehead, thigh, shoulder and the base of her spine. Also diagnosed were numerous severe brain injuries and bleeding at the back wall of an eye.

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The Accountability Gap in Child Protection (Thank you Safe Passage For Children)

This article copied from the Safe Passage For Children newsletter clearly articulates the importance of record keeping as it pertains to reports of repeated calls of child abuse.  Unfortunately, the system is overwhelmed, and it is all too easy to simply not keep good records. What we don’t know can’t hurt us.  But it certainly…

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Mental Health & Education (thank you Star Tribune for this honest conversation)

The complex needs of abused and neglected children are a giant, and I argue, the primary challenge facing America’s education system today. Different states handle the problem in different ways, but very states make the public aware of the depth and scope of the mental health issues like Minnesota has.

Teachers being forced to become social workers and mental health providers is a severe and growing problem in all American schools. Educators speaking openly about the dangers and fear of recurring outbursts by deeply troubled students injuring themselves or other children is a rarity in today’s media, but the data, including crime, graduation rates, test scores, and international achievement comparisons, would indicate otherwise.

There is little question that this problem is impacting the quality of education in our communities and needs to be addressed with adequate understanding and resources. The full Star Tribune article appears below, and I encourage you to read it, share your comments, and & make it available to educators you know.

Teachers deserve more support and a better understanding of the issues impacting education in America today.

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Reporting Maltreatment Of Children; How Minnesota Does It (State Statute – 626.556)

The difference between mandated reporters and the rest of the world is this; my friend who knew the 7 year old girl across the hall was being sexually abused was not a mandated reporter, and he did not report it. He feared for his life, as these were gang type neighbors, and while he was miserable about it, he never did speak out. Instead he knew for a long time what was happening next door and did nothing to stop it. It was a confession he made to me long after the events had occurred.

The only real hope this little girl (or any other children) being prostituted, pounded on, or otherwise horrifically treated, are mandated reporters. Hopefully, a teacher, hospital worker, or some other service provider will discover the horrors this little girl’s lived through and make help available so she might be healed and lead a better life. This is the statute that all mandated reporters should understand if they are to execute their jobs according to MN law.

If the resources were made available to enforce this statute, and make available the resources suggested within it, the prisons would empty, schools would perform at a much higher standard, and our communities would become the warm and friendly places we all want them to be. Take a moment and review the statute. It is valuable information for any citizen;

626.556 REPORTING OF MALTREATMENT OF MINORS.

Subdivision 1.Public policy.

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Riverside CA, 6 Investigations – Case Workers Find The Abuse Allegations “Unfounded” (but the 8 year old boy is dead)

Over the last ten years, six investigations involving Pearl Fernandez found no reason to take her son, Gabriel Fernandez, into protective custody.

Gabriel’s suicide note about repeated sexual abuse & his circular face welts were part of a long list of ignored information from mandated reporters.

California Child Protection workers were very familiar with Gabriel’s history.

Today, Pearl and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture for the gruesome death of their 8 year old boy.

82% of Riverside’s 44,737 cases were investigated (this is impressive) 21 % were substantiated. More than 20 children are murdered each year as open cases within the Riverside CA child protection system. Blaming social workers won’t solve this. Providing them training and resources might.

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Justice For Children In Atlanta Is Suffering Under Judge John Goger

Why would a guardian ad litem make $150,000 suppressing evidence, Why would a custody evaluator make $65,000 on a case where the evidence was overwhelming?

Apparently, to prevent a child from being protected against the man who had twice been arrested for molesting her (five independent assessments supported the girls story of repeated abuse.

Atlanta judge John Goger ordered the girl to live with her pedophile father. When asked by CBS Atlanta News, the judges assistant stated that the judge had “no comment”.

This kind of abuse lasts forever. Someone should comment.

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